While the past few months have certainly been challenging for my business, the crisis threw a handful of positive, sometimes heart-warming moments into the mix…
Before I begin, I definitely, utterly, totally appreciate that many of us have faced dark times recently. I also know that this crisis isn’t over yet. But I wanted to acknowledge that, in my corner of the industry, there have been some rays of sunlight, too. So here are just a few of the things that have made navigating the crisis (from a business perspective, at least) just that little bit more bearable.
Now everyone appreciates key workers
In the Shared Ownership sector, we deal with key workers from the service, hospitality and care industries all the time. We’ve been championing their needs and helping them to find affordable homes for years and it’s been genuinely lovely to see so many people come together to support them, and perhaps start to view them in a different light. Long may it last.
It’s not all about money
It’ll come as no surprise that the Financial Services sector is driven by money, but in recent years some companies have been so focussed on the big wins that they’ve lost sight of other equally important stuff. Stuff like offering products that enable everyone to buy a home, or just being a bit more… human.
I do feel, however, that the past few months have made many in the industry stop and think. Is there a better way of doing business? Can we be more helpful and considerate? I hope that some of the lessons we’ve learned during this time will continue to impact the way we work in the future. Time will tell.
The will to buy property is strong
Even on the darkest, most heart-stopping days of the crisis, we still had enquiries coming in. People were looking to buy homes and thinking about the future amid all that chaos and that’s very reassuring. The idea of buying your own home is rooted deep within, it seems. Is this the end of Generation Rent? Watch this space.
My team were amazing
Properly, heart-breakingly amazing. The way they reacted to the situation, helped out and supported each other was incredible. Many of them had to be furloughed – we’re now back up to 95% capacity – but not one of them complained. It’s very rare that I get emotional over work stuff, but my team made me feel very, very proud.
My team were amazing (part two)
I have to give a special mention to the team members who weren’t furloughed and stayed on to help me steer the business. It was tough going at times, but they rolled up their sleeves and did a sterling job.
People were understanding
There was a short delay between mortgage enquiries ramping up again and our team coming back off furlough. And this led to an understandable (temporary) drop in service levels. Did any of our customers complain? Did any of our Housing Association partners get twitchy? Not one of them. In fact, they were all absolutely brilliant and understanding, and that made a huge difference.
A special shout out
At the height of the crisis, lenders were removing their mortgage products from the market faster than you could imagine. We seemed to be in freefall for a while and it was pretty frightening. Leeds Building Society didn’t go anywhere. They are long-term partners of ours and they were right there for us and our customers when we needed them most.
Well, if there’s ever a time to work with your competitor, during a full-blown crisis was it. TMP The Mortgage People and Metro Finance supported each other and worked together at what was a hugely stressful time because Jon shared my view that the bigger picture was more important. I like to think that we stood alongside each other and fought for what was best for the sector. Thanks Jon. (Normal hostilities will now resume.)
As I say, I know that this crisis isn’t over yet. And I know that there’ll be more business hurdles to overcome in the coming weeks, months and maybe even years. But as I’ve learned, there are some kind, supportive, brilliant people out there. So bring it on. It’ll be like a walk in the park*.
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